Yesterday, Oprah welcomed bestselling author Paulo Coelho to Super Soul Sunday. Paulo is celebrating the 25th anniversary of a true phenomenon: The Alchemist. Since publication, this magical allegory about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from Spain to Egypt in search of treasure has broken all records. Over 65 million copies have been sold and it is the most translated book in history.
I was fascinated by Paulo’s early history and the near-death of The Alchemist.
Born into a middle- class family in Rio de Janeiro, he was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and become an engineer. When Paulo rebelled, his parents bribed him and, when that failed, they committed him to a mental institution from which he escaped three times before being released at the age of 20. Paulo made it clear that his parents truly loved him but were not comfortable with the idea of a son following a creative path.
Originally, Paulo launched The Alchemist through a small Brazilian publishing house. Initial sales were dismal and the publisher decided not to reprint. Passionate and committed to its success, Paulo found a larger publishing house and from there the book took off. Both Oprah and Paulo stressed the book reached the critical masses because of famous (Bill Clinton, Madonna, Will Smith) and more importantly, anonymous readers.
Throughout the telecast, Paulo shared wonderful observations and insights.
We all have a personal legend. And the key behind that legend is enthusiasm. We need to ask ourselves what gives us enthusiasm, keeping in mind that we betray our personal legend whenever we do something without enthusiasm.
We become fluent in the language of the world by daring, and we learn this language by paying attention and making mistakes. Omens and signs are everywhere. We need to look at everything as if we are seeing it for the first time.
Paulo believes that God will ask: “Did you love enough?” Here, Paulo is not referring to romantic love but whether we are able to open our hearts to embrace every grain of sand.
Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.
The heart is like a flower. It can be very brave or easily hurt.
Always listen to your heart, even when it scares you.
Before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one “dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.”
And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you get it.